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Pakistan Orders Foreign Aid Groups to Re-register

  • Reuters

A Pakistani police officer stands guard outside a sealed Save the Children office in Islamabad, Pakistan, June 12, 2015.

A Pakistani police officer stands guard outside a sealed Save the Children office in Islamabad, Pakistan, June 12, 2015.

Pakistan's prime minister on Tuesday ordered all international aid agencies to renew their registration within three months amid a crackdown on charity workers and activists whom authorities accuse of breaking unspecified laws.

Last week authorities said they would tighten oversight of local and international aid groups. Officials padlocked the offices of international aid organization Save the Children but did not explain why.

"All INGOs will complete the process of their fresh registration with the Government of Pakistan within three months," said a government statement, referring to international non-governmental organizations.

Save the Children has operated in Pakistan, a nation of 190 million people plagued by poverty and militancy, for more than 30 years. But it has had strained relations with the government since 2011, when a Pakistani doctor, Shakil Afridi, was recruited to help the CIA hunt down Osama bin Laden.

The charity says it had no links to Afridi beyond his attendance at some brief training courses the charity ran for tens of thousands of health workers.

Last week's decision to shut down Save the Children was suspended two days later after international donors, including the U.S. government, raised concerns.

A draft bill, the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act 2015, is under consideration by Pakistan's parliament and would make it easier for officials to prevent groups that receive foreign funds from operating.

Pakistan deregistered 3,000 local aid groups in December 2014, according to CIVICUS, a global alliance of civil society organizations.

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